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Dragons fullback Sam Bremner is back after giving birth to son Reef.

As she excitedly prepares to return from a 16-month absence at the NRL Nines, Sam Bremner is not only paving the way for other players to become mothers but she has also been helping to shape a maternity policy for the game.

St George Illawarra's founding captain is set to become the first player in the NRLW era to take time off to have a baby and return at the elite level when she runs out at Perth's Optus Stadium next month as part of a star-studded Dragons outfit.

The 28-year-old gave birth to son Reef in August and initially hoped to make her comeback for the Jillaroos in October's World Cup 9s but decided not to rush it as she learned to cope with changes to her body during pregnancy.

It was a learning curve not only for Bremner but officials involved with women's rugby league as she was retained on an NRL contract while she was pregnant and continued to train on a modified program.

Since Reef's birth, Bremner has continued to work hard and was recently just 0.04 seconds off her personal best time for a 1.2km run but along the way she has had cause on a number of occasions to seek advice about her workloads.

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Bremner has also had to be conscious of her limited time to train while she looks after a baby not yet six months old and ensure every minute in the gym was beneficial to her game.

"I had to patient and work my way into it because it is such a big thing to have a baby," Bremner said. "Your body changes for nine months and I had caesarean, so my abs got cut and it is a big operation.

"There isn't a whole lot of information about women returning to sport, especially physical sports like rugby league. I just had to do so much research myself, and a lot of it was through trial and error.

"I would do something and if it felt good I would keep going and if it hurt then I would find out why it would hurt by contacting a doctor or a women's specific physio."

She was also in regular contact with Jillaroos coach Brad Donald and strength and conditioning coach Simon Buxton, while NRL officials have asked for her advice in developing a maternity policy.

"I have documented everything and I even said to Brad that it is going to be useful to the girls going forward," Bremner said. "We don't want to lose great players to having families.

"The NRL is creating a policy now. I have had meetings with them, they just wanted to know how I felt, what I felt they could do better, what I thought was good and bad and what my idea of a policy would be.

"I think that is the best way to do it. You can't just make up a policy unless you get a bit of feedback from the players. I think it is great they are doing that and not just drafting a policy from another sport. They want to see what works for us."

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Bremner said that unlike an injury, it was difficult to put a timeline on how long a player needed out of the game or what level of training they could do after giving birth.

While she is returning after just six months, former Jillaroos teammate Nakia Davis-Welsh has missed both NRLW seasons and will make her comeback at the All Stars match on February 22.

"With pregnancy and coming back, your body is completely different to someone else's body," Bremner said. "Someone who has a baby could be back in four weeks, whereas another girl could need a year.

"I am really surprised with how great I feel. The last two weeks I have been doing a lot of testing and having to send my results to the Dragons. I didn't picture my body to be able to bounce back this well but everybody is different."

Bremner has also found time management is more important as a mother, but she believes having to switch off from thinking about football while looking after Reef has increased her enjoyment for the game.

"My training now is really well balanced because I have only got an hour without Reef and I have got to make the most of that hour," she said.

"About four or five weeks ago I had a meeting with our coaches because I said my training needs to be appropriate and needs to be specific to me in what I need to improve on because I don't have all day anymore, I only have the hour.

"If I am wasting my time doing more strength work or more running than I need to then I have wasted a session so I am doing really specific training to my body now."

After turning down an approach from Rugby Australia to join its sevens squad for the 2016 Rio Olympics because of her love for league, Bremner said she was pleased to help pioneer changes to the women's game.

"I think that I am really lucky, and the girls who are playing rugby league are really lucky, to be in a sport that is extremely inclusive and doesn't make you feel like you to pick between family and football," she said.

"They still invited me to go to training camps and I was still under contract to train but do modified training and that was completely up to me. There was no pressure.

"Now I want to come back and repay my sport and my coaches and my teammates and encourage other players that if they want to have a family to go and have a family. You can come back and play like I am going to do."

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Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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